New & Noteworthy

Archive for November, 2014

26 Nov 2014

Article Proposes Changes to Italian Collections

A new paper in ZooKeys looks at the future of Italian natural history collections. According to the paper’s authors, “Italian natural history museums are facing a critical situation, due to the progressive loss of scientific relevance, decreasing economic investments, and scarcity of personnel.” The proposed solution is to create a network of museums that function as a “metamuseum.” Read the article for free at

26 Nov 2014

Bee Specimens Provide Insights on Pollinator Declines

An article in the New York Times highlights the role of entomological collections in understanding the decline of bee species. Although the plight of honeybee species has garnered much attention in recent years, many species of wild bees are also in trouble.

To understand why, a group of researchers looked at bee specimens from the American Museum of Natural History, the New York State Museum, and several collections housed at universities. The scientists documented that the diversity of bees in New England declined by 15 percent over the last 140 years.

By identifying the types of pollen stuck to the specimens’ legs, the researchers were able to document changes in the availability of native plant that are food sources for pollinators.

Read the article at

25 Nov 2014

Graduate Student Leaders Sought to Shape Science Policy

Applications are being accepted for the 2015 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award. This award recognizes graduate students in the biological sciences who have demonstrated initiative and leadership in science policy. Recipients receive first-hand experience at the interface of science and public policy.

Winners receive:

  • A trip to Washington, DC, to participate in the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition Congressional Visits Day, an annual event that brings scientists to the nation’s capital to advocate for federal investment in the biological sciences, with a primary focus on the National Science Foundation. The event will be held in late spring 2015. Domestic travel and hotel expenses will be paid for the winners.
  • Policy and communications training, including information on the legislative process and trends in federal science funding.
  • Meetings with congressional policymakers to discuss the importance of federal investments in the biological sciences.
  • A one-year AIBS membership, including a subscription to the journal BioScience and a copy of “Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media.”
  • An award certificate and membership in the EPPLA alumni network.

The 2015 award is open to U.S. citizens enrolled in a graduate degree program in the biological sciences, science education, or a closely allied field. Applicants should have a demonstrated interest in and commitment to science policy and/or science education policy. Prior EPPLA winners and AIBS science policy interns/fellows are not eligible.

Applications are due by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on Sunday, 18 January 2015. The application can be downloaded at

07 Nov 2014

Comments Sought on NSF’s Advanced Computing Activities

The National Research Council of the National Academies is currently developing a framework to guide future National Science Foundation (NSF) investments in advanced computing for scientific and engineering research. The study committee is seeking input from the scientific community on their vision for the future of NSF advanced computing in order to inform their recommendations to NSF.

For more on the study, to view the NRC’s interim report, and to submit comments, visit Comments should be submitted by 31 January 2015.

07 Nov 2014

Complete the Heritage Health Information 2014 Survey

A national survey has launched to assess the state of the nation’s collections held by museums, scientific research collections, archaeological repositories, archives, and libraries. The results of the survey will be used to recommend next steps in collections preservation

The Natural Science Collections Alliance is serving as an allied partner in the effort.

If your organization is one of the roughly 14,000 institutions asked to participate, please complete the survey. Details about accessing the survey are being emailed to institution directors.

07 Nov 2014

Upcoming Webinars on Small Natural History Collections

The Small Collections Network and iDigBio have announced the dates for future webinars in their series focused on small natural history collections. The webinars are free to attend and registration is not required.

Small Fish in a Big Pond: Lessons Learned in Digitizing a Small Paleontology Collection
13 November 2014, 3-4 p.m. EST

The Value of the Symbiota Portal and Database for Small Collections
15 December 2014, 2-3 p.m. EST

Increasing Capacity for Small Natural History Collections: Developing Protocol for Volunteer-Based Inventorying Programs
15 January 2015, 3-4 p.m. EST

Saving Orphaned Collections
19 February 2015, 3-4 p.m. EST